comscore Japanese imports OK, stores say | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Hawaii News

Japanese imports OK, stores say

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM
    Christine Okamoto shopped at Japa­nese specialty store Nijiya Market Wednesday afternoon. Oka­moto lived in Tokyo for four years and has concerns about food quality with dairy and fresh vegetable products, but wholesale distributors and market owners say items were shipped from Japan before the nuclear crisis.
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Some Hawaii consumers are expressing worries about buying radioactive food — mostly canned and dried goods — from Japan because of the nuclear plant leaks at Fuku­shima.

But wholesale distributors and market owners say they are selling food that was shipped from Japan before the March 11 crisis, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is now inspecting the food before it enters the United States.

"Some customers are asking questions … worry about radioactivity in foods," said Taka­shi Fuji­naga, floor manager of Nijiya Market on Piikoi Street.

"The United States government is inspecting everything," Fuji­naga said, noting that the store’s takeout plate lunches are made with produce from Hawaii and California.

Japanese authorities advised Tokyo residents this week not to give babies tap water. Water from the region’s purification plant had more than twice the safety level for infants, authorities warned.

The FDA has banned the import of milk, fruits and vegetables produced and manufactured from four Japa­nese prefectures: Fuku­shima, Iba­raki, Tochigi and Gunma.

The FDA said other food products from these areas, including seafood, will be diverted for testing before they can enter the food supply. The agency also said because of heavy damage caused by the earthquake and tsunami to the region, few or no products are being exported from the affected areas.

Japanese food distributors and markets say they probably won’t know the impact of the nuclear crisis at Fuku­shima for three to four months.

Japan Food (Hawaii) Inc., a wholesale distributor, said some individuals and one restaurant canceled delivery of goods from Japan, despite the products being shipped prior to March 11.

Japan Food branch manager Toshi­aki Wada said the firm doesn’t ship produce to Hawaii.

Wada said no food proc­ess­ing or manufacturing is taking place in the affected Fuku­shima area.

"They’re all closed down," he said.

He said the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is working with the Japa­nese government to inspect the products.

"If they say stop the import, we have to stop the import," Wada said.

Wada said his firm mainly imports noodles, soy sauce and liquor from Japan.

"These shipments are safe," he said.

Seiji Sugiyama, an assistant manager for Cherry Co. Ltd., said FDA officials can identify the source of the food and the proximity to Fuku­shima, because the imported Japa­nese food is registered with the factory site where the food was proc­essed.

"The FDA can tell where the company is located … find out where the merchandise came from," he said.

Sugiyama said he hasn’t heard of a ban on any specific products, but he has heard that some countries in the European Union are asking Japan to provide proof about the safety of its products from radioactivity.

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